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Elsen: Focused on housing, safety, health

Stephanie Elsen (photo by Inspired1Photography)
Editor's note: This Q&A is part of a series highlighting Wards 1 and 2 candidates. Find the rest of the story here

Stephanie Elsen

  • Age: 49
  • Address: 1502 W. Fourth St.
  • Website:  www.elsenforcouncil.com
  • Facebook: www.facebook.com/elsenforcouncil
  • Education:  Bachelor of Arts German/secondary education
  • Family: I have one 19-year-old son, Luke, and my significant other, Glenn. I’m very close with my entire family, who also live nearby.
  • Occupation: Marketing manager at Red Wing Software
  • Civic involvement: Current vice president of the Red Wing Port Authority Board; Red Wing 2040 Initiative participant; member of the Old West Main & Upper Harbor Renewal Advisory Committee; Red Wing Ignite – a high-tech and marketing education program for local students; Volunteerism: Girls on the Run coach; elementary school reading listener; Yuletide Villagefest planner; Red Wing Ignite community website advisor (www.redwinginfo.com); community education teacher; Downtown Main Street software planner;  Sheldon Theatre volunteer; Red Wing Forward participant; Red Wing YMCA Sunshine Corner Preschool volunteer; Red Wing Big Turn Music Festival volunteer.

What compelled you to run for the Red Wing City Council?

Having seen the recent discord on the City Council, I feel that fresh faces and new ideas are needed to move Red Wing forward. That is why I decided to run and am committed to working on fixing things, solving problems and moving Red Wing forward.

What local issues are you passionate about? Which issue would you address first if elected?

There are many things I am passionate about, but my top issues are affordable health care and housing, and those are the issues I would focus on first.

Let's work together with local providers and at the state and federal level to find creative solutions to make quality health care more affordable for all.

As for housing, I've felt the pain of trying to find a place to live, and not being able to find anything, and I know many others who have as well. We need to prioritize housing, which will in turn help fill the many jobs available in Red Wing, and give working families a place to live. Let's engage local builders, banks, architects and community leaders to tackle the problem.

What have you done to prepare for being on City Council?

I've been on the Port Authority for nearly three years, which has helped greatly, and have also been involved with the Red Wing 2040 initiative and the Old West Main/Upper Harbor Advisory committee. I've been attending City Council meetings as well as other commission and committee meetings. I've attended many events throughout the community and have been meeting with a great number of people one-on-one and visiting neighborhoods. All of this has really given me great insight and I am ready to represent Wards 1 & 2 on the City Council. I've been involved in the community in a wide variety of activities over the years, long before I decided to run for City Council. I love Red Wing and enjoy being actively involved with events, whether volunteering or simply participating.

What unique skills and perspectives do you bring to the Council?

One of the strongest things I have to offer is bringing a fresh perspective to the City Council. Looking at a new or old problem with fresh eyes can bring new solutions. Transparency and clear communication — I will work hard to ensure constituents understand things like the levy and the budget numbers, ramifications of projects, etc. I work extremely hard and am eager to put in the work necessary to tackle the many current issues facing Red Wing.

How would you prioritize and scrutinize special projects and requests?

First and foremost, I would talk to the people involved to truly understand the project or request. I would prioritize projects that promote public safety of highest importance. As for scrutinizing, my first question would be, is this something we need? And if it's not, and it's just something we want, then does it provide the community the value for what we are paying for it? What are the ongoing costs of this project? Exactly what does this project bring into the community? Special projects and requests that fill a community need and offer a strong payback for our community would be of high priority.

Jefferson school is empty and the professional/Mayo building will close by the end of the year. How will you include the community in deciding what goes into those buildings/spaces?

City staff has already begun the process of including the public at the open house they had at Jefferson School, regarding both buildings, and I think they did a good job of collecting input. I believe with the importance of these buildings and with the large impact their use has on the community, having a public forum would be a good idea, especially for those of us living nearby these buildings. Of course, I would also be open to talking with anyone who is concerned or who wants to give their input on the matter.